Magnificent Utah Canyons

Magnificent Utah Canyons: Kolob Canyon Landscapes, Courtesy Pixabay, Joe Russell Photography, Contributor
Kolob Canyon Landscapes
Courtesy Pixabay,
Joe Russell Photography, Contributor

Snow Canyon State Park, Courtesy Pixabay, AlpineDon, ContributorSnow Canyon State Park
Courtesy Pixabay
AlpineDon, Contributor

Utah is riddled with the most magnificent canyons on our lovely little planet! Thinking Snow Canyon, Kolob, Zion, Virgin River Gorge, Logan Canyon, Coyote gulch, Big and little Cottonwoods, and several hundred more that deserve mention.

I recently returned from leading an outing for 25 USU international students where we split our time between Snow Canyon and Zion National Park. Their hearts have yet to fully recover from world class scenery and the remarkable geologic features they encompass. Petrified 200-foot sand dunes in Snow and 2000 foot vertical “big” walls in Zion, softened by rushing waters of the Virgin river. The Virgin River Narrows tugged at their sense of adventure as many “Narrows” hikers clothed in waders, holding wooden staffs, came trekking out of the “Gateway”.

Canyon’s deliver our waters and nurture our souls. Majestic rivers- Green, Colorado, Yampa White, San Juan, the Bear, offer all levels of boating thrills from placid to riotous. I’ve experienced many with family and students in various crafts- rafts, canoes, kayaks. Much of the country they cut through is remote and wild. Desolation, Dinosaur, Arches, Canyonlands NP, Bears Ears. Many meander through terra incognito, roadless wilderness, sliced and diced into alluring slot canyons where the sun never shines. Mysteries to behold, and flash floods to unfold.

My daughter-in-law and grandchildren experienced a grand adventure in the Zion subway slot canyon. A beautiful, blue-sky day with no hint or forecast of rain. Midway through their passage the water began to rise. Unknown to them, a heavy downpour had occurred miles above. Fortunately, they were able to scramble up to a ledge where they spent a long, cold, hungry night as the waters continued to rise. Not until the following day did the stream drop enough to allow their escape.

Where else can one take refuge from our overheated summers. Adventure awaits. Hiking, climbing, skiing, wildlife watching, botanizing- all there beckoning!

Birders delights from American dippers to Great Blue Herons. Soon to be filled with bird song as spring unfolds- fox and song sparrows, MacGillivray and Wilson warblers, warbling and plumbeous vireos, black headed grosbeaks and bullock orioles, lazuli buntings, join at least 20 other species adding to the chorus. Resident canyon wrens often announce their presence in vibrant, cascading song.

Beyond their stunning beauty and endless adventure, our canyons encompass myriad watersheds which capture the masses of snow melt resulting in most of our desert state’s water. Additionally, healthy watersheds feed our iconic Great Salt Lake, a critical western hemispheric shorebird refuge, and essential to our well-being in so many additional ways.

These priceless landforms deserve our love and protection. Threats of gondolas, mining, road improvements, and other human activities will continue to be challenges. “Save Our Canyons”, a SLC organization is laser focused on keeping Wasatch canyons from being further compromised. We must all become canyon advocates for the infinite joy and countless gifts they unflinchingly provide.

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon, and yes, I’m wild about Utah!

Credits:

Images: Kolob Canyon Landscapes Courtesy Pixabay, Joe Russell_Photography, Contributor https://pixabay.com/photos/kolob-canyon-landscapes-outdoors-5215253/
Snow Canyon State Park Courtesy Pixabay, AlpineDon, Contributor, https://pixabay.com/photos/snow-canyon-state-park-utah-1066145/
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/author/jack/

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, National Parks Service, US Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/kolob-canyons.htm

Matcha (Contracted content), A Visitor’s Guide to Zion’s Kolob Canyons, Utah Office of Tourism, https://www.visitutah.com/Articles/Kolob-Canyons-Visitor-Guide

Finding Remoteness

Finding Remoteness: A remote area in the Bear River Range Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
A remote area in the Bear River Range
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
‘Remote’ is not a characteristic I would assign to the city center, a major metropolis like where I grew up. But I also remember summers spent high in the crown of our old magnolia tree, where my 8 year old self may have begged to differ. There, I found wildness—forgot about time and place and the civilization that occupied them. Finding Remoteness

What does ‘remote’ mean? Take a moment, if you will, and conjure a memory—to the most remote place you’ve ever been. Where are you? Why did that particular place come to mind? Was it the distance from cities and towns? Was it the absence of other people? Was it the darkness? The quiet? What makes a place “remote?”

This question has been tumbling around in my head for a while. So, naturally, I took to the internet for answers. A definition: ‘remote’—an adjective—“(of a place) situated far from the main centers of population; distant.” Seems straightforward at first, but the quality of remoteness is open for interpretation. I might argue, for instance, that Lhasa—the Tibetan capital of almost half a million people—is far more remote than the most isolated corner of Utah’s redrock labyrinth. Perhaps that’s an apples to oranges comparison, though.

Bear-shaped remote region in the Bear River Range Data and Photo Credit: Hunter Baldridge
Bear-shaped remote region
in the Bear River Range
Data and Photo Credit: Hunter Baldridge
The Means family from Florida is trying to quantify remoteness and document the most remote place in all 50 states. Project Remote, they call it, defines remoteness as “the point that is the farthest straight-line distance from a road or city [or] town.” According to the Means family, Utah’s most remote location is deep in the High Uintas Wilderness–9.5 miles from the nearest road; a two-day trek from the closest trailhead.

Project Remote inspired me. Their definition seemed reasonable enough, but I was curious about whittling down the parameters of ‘remoteness.’ I wanted to identify the most remote location in Cache County, where I live; so, I reached out to USU Geographic Information Systems instructor, Shannon Belmont, who has been working on this question with her students for several years. As it turns out, the general consensus from Belmont’s class projects produced a fittingly bear shaped swathe of canyons and peaks in the high country of the Bear River Range as the most remote region in the county. There were dozens of other definitions offered through Belmont’s project, of course.

‘Remote’ seems a relative term—relative to the perspective of a traveler and their perceived distance or isolation from the center of whatever world is familiar. When avalanche danger in my home range subsides, I’ll click boots into skis and plow my way to the heart of that bear-shaped expanse of peaks and canyons, trying to find what ‘remote’ means there. Then, perhaps I’ll redefine the word entirely— changing it by season, mode of transport, or state of mind. Until then, maybe I’ll find an old tree to get lost in.

I’m Josh Boling, and I’m Wild About Utah!Defining Remote
 
Credits:
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Josh Boling, Photographer
Uintas Graphic: Courtesy Josh Boling & Hunter Baldridge, Copyright © Hunter Baldridge
Sound: Courtesy & Copyright J Chase and K.W. Baldwin, Utah Public Radio
Text: Josh Boling, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Josh Boling

Sources & Additional Reading

https://www.outsideonline.com/2314611/roads-around-nowhere

Project Remote, https://www.projectremote.com/

Utah’s Remote Spot in the High Unitas, Project Remote, October 3, 2019, https://www.projectremote.com/blog/utah-remote-spot/

Belmont, Shannon, Final Project – Identifying the most remote location in Cache County, GEOG/WILD1800, SJ & Jessie Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, https://wildaboututah.org/wp-content/uploads/boling.josh_.GW1800_Final_Project_RemoteLocation.pdf